(Last Updated on : 09/08/2010)
One of the most prominent elements of the Renaissance in India is its influence over the Bengal paintings. During the renaissance period the development of Bengal paintings has been phenomenal as regards the number of artists who have been drawn into the movement since it defined itself and also as regards the recognition of the quality of work. The beginning of the movement stared during the fifties. The work of the Bengal painters attracted the attention of lovers of art in Bengal, and led to the formation of the Indian Society of Oriental Art.
One of the most notable features of the impact of renaissance over Bengal paintings was the expansion and growth of highly sensible linear art perspective. Between art and criticism there exists the relationship that comes from a concealed unity beneath their surface activities of intuitive hazard on one side, and rational testing on the other. During the Indian renaissance period art and paintings experienced a huge outburst. Art is, of course, likewise debtor to criticism; but it owes to criticism is a mere fraction of what criticism lifted from it. The influence of renaissance over art and paintings was evidently deep. It is well known fact that the Indian art is enriched by the advancement in the technique and mechanics of the West.
Scholars define the first impression of the work of the Bengal painters was one of microscopic delicacy to the one of largeness and strength. It was to some extent the influence of renaissance movement and also due to the gradual perception of something deeper and subtler than the art. One of the most interesting aspects of the art of the Bengal painters is that they reflect their authenticity to nature. Over the years during the renaissance period paintings of Bengal have witnessed considerable changes including forms and patterns. The difference between much of the melodramatic art beyond India and the art of the Bengal school is like the difference between the strut of the ordinary actor, who starts on a loud note, and then has to strain for his starting point. Their art of painting, like their native music, is full of overtones and undertones, and moves in a pure lyricism that is innocent of false accent, or of what is worse, over-emphasis. This special characteristic is not confined to technique.
The distinctively feminine traits were given more emphasis, less as symbols of eternal qualities, than because of the special value which masculinity puts upon them. However, the trend changed with the renaissance movement. It is the other way round with the modern Indian painters. To them, woman is not the lesser man; in fact she is the other man, and both are complementary differentiations of one continuous existence. To these artists this was not a mere theory; it was the natural traditional background of all their activities. In the work of the junior artists, the word 'promise' takes on a wider meaning. Further, another element could be found in the sense of artistic prospect through these pictures, and that is, the coming in of a more direct dealing with nature and humanity. It appeared to threaten a danger to the inner vision, the emotional and spiritual revelation that is the special characteristic of the Bengal school of painting. Long attention to the aspects of things as sequel a superficial art was given. In fact there was an element of freshness applied by the artists in their subjects. The trend of fusion became popular. However, the fusion does not mean that there is in the artists' work the evidence of inharmonious technique or overlaying of style. The realistic aim became to present things as they are actually seen and the impressionistic aim was to express qualities through the things seen. The attitude of separateness has led naturally to some exaggeration. The tendency of realism has been to lay too much stress on sight, and to overlook the inevitable subjective element that underlies every conscious operation. Realism ceases to be real when it forgets that every turn of the eye is an act, not of sight, but of interpretation.
Gradually, it appeared that the painters of the Bengal school of painting, on certain sides of their work, have succeeded in fulfilling the ideals of both realism and impressionism by a clear recognition of the necessary interplay of the visual faculty with the interpretative. Like the impressionists, they express qualities that is not vibrating with emotion but the attainment of that expression is nowhere at the expense of the embodiments through which the emotion is expressed. They observe the limitations of form and colour for the articulation of that which is beyond shape and size; but they do not smash the image in order to set free its soul. They present a complete and adequate visual presentation without shock or monstrosity, and at the same time make the spiritual disclosure with keen conviction. Lastly, psychological distinctiveness of the artists was another aspect prominently found in Bengal paintings during the renaissance period.